November 2019  
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REACH – Reading Enhances All Choices for Humans

Special Church Conference Announcement &
Literacy Center Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ll gladly share in conversation over this new and exciting project! I look forward to our conversation and vote on June 10th at 6:00pm.
May 28, 2019 
Sisters and Brothers of St. Andrew’s UMC, 
With great joy I’m writing to inform you that we have scheduled a Special Church Conference (all-member vote) for the purpose of voting to build (or not to build) the Literacy Center that will serve as a home to our REACH Literacy Program. The Church Conference will be held on June 10th (Monday) at 6:00pm in the sanctuary. This letter serves as the official announcement for the Special Church Conference and as a means to provide answers to a few questions I’ve heard circulating concerning our REACH program and Literacy Center.  
Over the past several months, we have made great strides towards defining the purpose and intent of our literacy center and the program it will house. We’ve held special meetings, held formal and informal one-on-one conversations, asked for permission to build from our District, and we’ve engaged with numerous partnering agencies – to include city and state elected officials – for support and financial assistance.  
I’m excited to say that the underlying need and purpose for this endeavor have been largely embraced. However, with a project this size, it’s to be expected that there are mixed feelings – even within our own selves. I’ve heard both excitement and concern for the center, and I’d like to address some of those concerns here. Below you’ll find a few common questions and their answers concerning our exciting building project. 
1) Why do we need to build the Literacy Center?   
The mission of the REACH program is “To improve lives through literacy.” Our vision is “To achieve and maintain a future where all individuals have the knowledge, skills, and opportunities needed to flourish in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.” This mission and vision of the Literacy Center and the REACH program are multifaceted: both theological and sociological.   Theological: Jesus often met people where they were in their lives: he used the thirst of a woman to describe an enteral quenching of spiritual thirst (John 4). He fed thousands of people and then talked about the purpose of spiritual nourishment (John 6). He healed numerous people to share the healing love of God available to all. In meeting people where they were in life, Jesus showed compassion for their current situation while sharing the love of God. It is our hope that in meeting people where they are, as they seek to increase their literacy in a highly literate world, that we can also show the love of God in our words and actions.   Sociological: America is a literate society; every aspect of life assumes a level of reading (to include reading road signs, shopping at the grocery store, and applying for a job). One’s quality of life is quickly diminished without this assumed level of literacy. It is the vision of this program to provide opportunities for others to flourish in society. At Lydia Hawk Elementary (where most of the students in our neighborhood attend), 75% of the children are reading below their appropriate reading level. National statistics show that if one cannot read at the appropriate level by 4th grade, her/his chances of graduating high school on time (or at all) is significantly diminished.  

2) Where will the money come from? What is the cost to St. Andrew’s UMC? 
Let me first say that by United Methodist rules we cannot (and will not) begin building until monies are designated. You can also rest assured that a vote for building the Literacy Center is inherently contingent on the funding. That said, we cannot submit for funding through granting sources until we have permission to build from the congregation – yes, it does seem a bit backwards. The day-to-day operational funds for the REACH program and the capital funds for the Literacy Center will be self-sustaining and at no cost to St. Andrew’s UMC.    With the St. Andrew’s Preschool, St. Andrew’s UMC already has a history of self-sustaining organizations working within the walls of the building. The preschool operates as its own entity, and in fact provides a generous monthly payment for building use. While REACH (the actual literacy program) will operate on a larger scale, the separation is similar.   Funding sources have already been “earmarked,” and Barbara Clarkson is working on grant proposals, however, they cannot be submitted until we have officially approved the building. Here is a list of a few organizations we will request funding from: a) Murdock Charitable Trust; b) WA State Legislature; c) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; d) US Department of Education. These organizations have a history of giving large sums (sometimes in the millions of dollars) – some for capital funds, some for operational, some for both. We will also set up a website for fundraising from individuals as well. As of the writing of this, the estimated costs are: Capital – $2.4 million; Operational – $250,000/year. These are large numbers, yes, but in the eyes of these funding sources, these costs are typical requests.   

3) Tell me about the day-to-day operation of REACH.     
This summer, we will host our second REACH literacy program that has been supported and assisted by local non-profits and the public educational system. Currently we are focusing on “boosting” the students reading knowledge prior to the start of school. We’ve strategically placed the program dates in between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.  Our goal, once the REACH program becomes its own 501(c)(3) and is housed in its own building is to house after school programs, computer literacy programs, and eventually adult literacy programs. The scale at which this program will operate will require a program manager and at least one full time teacher with the assistance of many reading volunteers to build a relationship with the students. 
4) What about the placement of the building? Will it affect the memorial garden?   
Our memorial garden is a beautiful place of silence and solitude. It is true that this new building will be placed where a few of the memorial trees are located. The architects who drew our building plans are well aware of the importance and sacredness of this space, and they have proposed a few plans to move these gardens to a new spot with just as much sacredness. Additionally, we are blessed with a trained forester in our congregation who has already begun plans for moving the five effected memorial trees and other greenery with emphasis on proper timing and placement as well as the sanctity of the space. 
Lastly, friends, I realize that change can be difficult and worrisome. The fear of the unknown can quickly overwhelm and lead us to see the negative before the positive. In fact, such thinking has probably kept humanity thriving for as long as it has! It’s important to recognize the difficulty in big changes, but it’s also exciting to imagine the way in which we can show God’s love to our community anew through this change. I’m thankful for the hard questions, the deep thoughts, and the many of emotions that go into a large decision such as this. I pray for your discernment and for the discernment of the church as we move forward towards this important vote.  
If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ll gladly share in conversation over this new and exciting project! I look forward to our conversation and vote on June 10th at 6:00pm.  
         Blessings, Pastor Dirk 





Reading Enhances All Choices For Humans

Over the next year: With approval from the appropriate approving bodies; St Andrews United Methodist Church congregation; The District superintendent; and the Conference; a plan will be developed to begin a process of developing a Literacy Center to provide literacy training to members of the St Andrew’s United Methodist Church community; and beyond. This center will be connected to and our operating with St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church and not a stand-a-lone. However, proposals will be written and submitted to funding sources to support this structure. (Sources will be for capital and operating funding).

Community Partners: North Thurston Public Schools, Timberline Library, South Sound Reading Foundation, ESD 113, Friends of Reach Volunteers-Saint Martin’s Univ. Prosecuting Attorney and St Andrews members – Former teaches Librarians.

Update as of 03.27.2019

Literacy Center Update April 2019

Thanks to the great work of Barbara Clarkson and Rich Green, we are continuing to make great strides with our Literacy Center. The Church Council has set a goal-date of June 2nd to have a Special Church Conference to vote for the building of the Literacy Center. In this lead up to this date, it is our hope to be as transparent and communicative as possible throughout this process. In this newsletter and those to follow, we will be adding a FAQ section about the status of our hopeful center. Below are the first two questions – questions that I (and your lay leaders) have heard often.

1) Why are we building this center? Jesus often met people where they were in life – wherever life’s journey had brought them. Our UMC heritage has sought to do the same, to include providing quality education for all. When our founder, John Wesley, and his bands of Methodists first began, they created free schools for those who couldn’t afford it. Today, The UMC supports 119 colleges and universities in the US, and about 700 worldwide. In a very “literate society,” those who can’t read fall behind quickly. Almost ¾ of the students (70%) of Lydia Hawk Elementary read below their grade level, and many go home to households where English is not spoken. National research shows that if children are not reading at the 4th grade reading level by 4th grade, they will likely fall behind throughout the entirety of their school years. It is our with them in the journey of life and share with them that someone cares for them!

2) Will there be any cost to the church? This question is on everyone’s mind. As with anything in life, this literacy center comes with a cost. Costs are broken into capital (building) and operational (day-to-day) funds. Capital costs are estimated to be about $2.5 million with an annual operating budget around $250,000 (to serve 100 kids per year). Where will this money come from? Barbara Clarkson, the lead for this project, has great experience in building new programs from scratch, and she is using her past to benefit the future! She has already submitted for $1.5 million for capital funds, and she has about six other granting foundations earmarked to begin requesting money. The Literacy Center will be funded by grants, however, if you’d like to make a donation to the start of this wonderful program, please speak with Pastor Dirk, Barbara Clarkson, or Rich Green.


Literacy Center update February Nexus article - 

On January 9th, Barbara Clarkson (REACH Program Coordinator), Rich Green (Lay Leader), and Pastor Dirk traveled to Tumwater to meet with the District Building Committee to discuss the possibility of building a Literacy Center to house our developing REACH Program. The Committee was excited for the potential of both our REACH program and Literacy Center. On February 7th, the committee will travel to SAUMC to see the building, meet the architect, and discuss the program more thoroughly. If you'd like to hear more about the progress and the program's purpose, please see Barbara, Rich, and/or Pastor Dirk!


Talking Paper – Reading Enhances All Choices for Humans (REACH)

October 16, 2018

Definition and Purpose: The REACH program is to be located at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, designated as a nonprofit community center, and structured as a Literacy Center. Typically, a Literacy Center has designated areas or classrooms that provide students with exciting and interesting experiences to practice, enrich, renew, and enhance their learning. Students arrive at the center to complete an assignment or learn through activities.

A literacy center is designed to provide appropriate materials to help students work independently or collaboratively (with partners or in small groups) to meet literacy goals. Literacy centers are an exciting, self-motivational way to enhance, develop, or extend learning within a classroom. As students are engaged in meaningful literacy tasks at centers, the teacher/volunteer is able to provide reading instruction to small groups of students without interruption.

REACH Program Mission Statement: To improve lives through literacy.

REACH Program Vision Statement: The REACH Program strives to achieve and maintain a future where all individuals have the knowledge, skills, and opportunities needed to flourish in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Theological Foundations: The United Methodist Church (UMC) has – from its inception in 1700’s England – advocated and provided for quality education for all, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. This calling has been affirmed through Scripture: Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray” (NRSV). Jesus, too, showed compassion for children in word (“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones…”; Matt. 18:6) and action (see Matt. 9:22-26).

Today, The UMC continues its advocacy for “quality education,” as we affirm and “support the development of school systems and innovative methods of education designed to assist every child toward complete fulfillment as an individual person of worth” (The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶164.e). This support, though, must be put into action as United Methodists are called to “Establish and nurture partnerships with local public schools such as providing after-school and vacation enrichment programs” (The Book of Resolution of The United Methodist Church, ¶3165.v).

Goals: Current interests with 1st - 5th grade education:

  • Support the Common Core State Standards Initiative in coordination with local schools and school districts.
  • Support early grades in Reading, Writing, Language Arts, and Math
    • Instruction with early grades (1st-3rd) to include STEM education
  • Identify data-based school improvement and decision-making
  • Identify effective instruction through research-based teacher training and evaluation
  • Engage school, community, and family partnerships to strengthen academic outcomes and successful transitions
  • Provide opportunities for local teachers-in-training to gain experience in their field.
  • Provide instruction free of charge to all participants.

Over the next year: With approval from the appropriate bodies (i.e. St Andrew’s United Methodist Church congregation, the District Superintendent; and the Conference), a plan will be developed to begin a process of developing a Literacy Center to provide holistic literacy training to members of the neighborhood and community that surrounds St Andrew’s United Methodist Church, and beyond. This center will be connected to – and operating under the 501(c)(3) status of – St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church. Proposals will be written and submitted to funding sources for capital and operating funding to support this structure.

Future Possibilities:

The intent for the REACH Program is to grow beyond the elementary school arrangement. REACH will eventually include literacy for youth, adults, and ESL training.

The REACH Program has been completed as of August 24th. The committee is meeting to discuss the future, as to continue the program after school during the year or wait till next summer to have sessions again. Please check back to this page or call St Andrew's if you are interested in participating in the REACH program. 

Literacy Center - Update Sept 2018

Did you see the display in the Fellowship Hall?

These are the first drawings of what will possibly be the Literacy Center here at St. Andrew's UMC.

Over the next year: With approval from the appropriate approving bodies; the Church congregation; The District superintendent; and the Conference; a plan will be developed to begin a process of developing a Literacy Center to provide literacy training the community; and beyond. This center will be a standalone facility to operate with it’s own funding sources.

Our Goals for the Literacy Center: Opportunities to grow in faith, service, and fellowship – For people of all age groups. St Andrew’s will provide opportunities to address new, diverse, unique, and evolving needs for growth within the church and community.

Welcoming – We will reach out to the community with God’s love; we will create a community where caring and sharing is valued; everyone is welcome.

Community – We will support the community through service and giving; St Andrew’s will be a catalyst to transform the community.

REACH – Reading Enhances All Choices for Humans

Good morning, I have been asked by Pastor Dirk to provide you with a brief introduction to the Literacy program sponsored by St Andrew’s United Methodist Church. It is for elementary school children in this community, but primarily students attending Lydia Hawk elementary School. 

The program is for students going into the 1st -5th grades.

Literacy by its definition is: traditionally meant as the ability to read and write. The modern term's meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge, and solve mathematical problems.

The key to literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding of text; all of which provide a necessary platform for reading fluency and comprehension.

The Program name is REACH Reading Enhances All Choices for Humans

The program starts August 13, – At 10:00am – to Noon from the 13 -24 of August. Volunteers are welcome, as well as snacks for 20. No. Nuts.

REACH has developed partnerships with North Thurston Public Schools, South Sound Reading Foundation, Nisqually Wildlife refuge and the–Educational Service District 113.

REACH is operating with volunteers to assist the children to gain important skills in our written language through reading.

And I personally thank all of you who have spent time, effort, and resources to help launch; REACH - into reality.

Reading development involves a range of complex language underpinnings including awareness of speech sounds (phonology), spelling patterns (orthography), word meaning (semantics), grammar (syntax) and patterns of word formation (morphology). - Barbara Clarkson




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